A first attempt at a sermon in verse, delivered in Hobart 3 October 2010
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 17:44-46
And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden. Genesis 2:9
He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:24
When the world was new the field was a lush garden
before the precedent setting wretchedness
when the soul of man unravelled
and the garden became a field
full with furrow, sweat and plough
Before the guardian with flaming sword
the field was a garden set wide with
Fruit laden trees tended by the Giver of Life Himself
who walked there in the cool of the day.
And at the centre,
splendid of position
roots hung deep in Eden loam
The treasure itself spread vast and
branching skyward with exuberant joy
leafy in unmatched abundance,
heavy with the fruit of fellowship
tasting of God himself.
The Tree of Life
Life without end
Key to the Kingdom
17 years ago in the dark of a still night
reluctant Marion and I
walked 2 hours in
along the Ida Bay railway line past the overgrown settlement
where only the grave stones stand
and buried an 18kt gold Tasmanian tiger
with garnets and black star sapphire
wrapped in hand painted silk and seated
at the centre of three nesting pots
each with a wax seal.
We dug deep measuring with care and compass
2 meters west of a monument
to George the III a wretched ship wreck
where shackled convicts drowned thrashing in their chains
simple stones piled facing the bay and
the lighthouse tip of Bruny Island
At one meter deep my shoulder thrust deep in the hole
to scoop the last of the soil, we sank our gold tiger casket
backfilled the sand, smoothed the surface like thuggies
and tossed the spade over the cliff
to conceal the evidence just as first light
undid the dark in the sky over the sea.
In succeeding years readers combed our book for location clues
And a fat pile of their enquires is bundled still
in a shipping container propped behind the house.
There are two that I remember well.
Do these two notes tell us more
treasure hunter truth than
our book ever told our readers?
Treasure hunter one:
Your Tasmanian Tiger book is about the number 16
road sign for Derby 16 kilometers
the villan's shoe points to the 16
on page 16
a checkered skirt shows 16 squares up
and 16 squares down
and Tasmanian Tigers have 16 stripes
Dear treasure hunter
… remarkable, utterly intriguing.
You're right ... 16's do emerge from page to page
… coincidental maybe
we did not plant them there
… irrelevant without doubt
they will not lead to treasure.
Treasure hunter two:
I love your riddles, stories and pictures
they make treasure of my experience
Your riddles are koans
evoking flash of insight.
Obviously no real gold waits in a dark hole,
only spiritual gold inside of me
Thanks for the journey
Dear treasure hunter,
The gold is real and buried in a field.
The word became flesh and dwelt among us
Here the field, Christ the treasure
Treasure hunter One reads the Word
by rules of his own
by a different paradigm
And why not?
Don't all paths lead to the same destination
Don't all Ways turn up gold?
Doesn't in the end
everything equal everything else?
Not in my life
Not by the remarkable book.
Not by God's clues.
Isn't that unfair to all the other seekers?
the readers of other treasure books?
No indeed. The choice cries out
unique to all the world.
The prize beckons to us all
by a narrow path
and hidden in a field
And What of treasure hunter 2?
Is some newer truth concealed.
Is the Garden merely legend?
Is God none other than myself?
What gross poverty would make
a treasurer hunter
settle for this?
When resurrection surety is as real as
our gold tiger in a pot of clay?
When one stepped from the grave fully alive
for us to touch, to hold, to be speechless with relief?
If one can so misread our book...
God's kingdom begs a second look.
Four years after the treasure disappeared
into the ground a reader got it right
and rang one night to say
and indeed he did.
And we retraced our journey of that night so long before
and filmed his glee to dig the casket from the sand
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11
The Word fitly spoken.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
The Word who spoke the world to life.
The Word who first spun stars from dust
Who pilots exuberant galaxies round the rim of the universe.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22:2
So here the garden come again
He the treasure birthed in toil and poverty
unlikely in a small Galilean town
now beams such quality of light that
the garden city of our destination needs
no other illumination.
What cost then the field
to likes of us?
Everything. The lot.
All that you have.
All that you are.
Handed over to God
A man sold all that he had and bought the field.
And the treasure?
What then is in the box?
The embrace of God
the city of light
displaced is the wide dusty field
by a a river
the Garden of God full circle
shimmers, lush and wide
banked by fruit bearing trees.
Life without end.
Is there another way to look at the treasure and the pearl in there parables? Is it possible that God himself is the finder of treasure in a field? ... or the pearl merchant and we are the treasure or the pearl of great price? Broken bread and the wine of communion reminds so poignantly that we are indeed treasured by God, so loved as his lost sheep ( another parable) that he divested himself (undressing all the way) as George Herbert has it, to come among us. And at great cost, the cost of his own blood and suffering he bought us, retrieved us, redeemed us, the treasure lost in the field of the world. He considered us sinners of such great value that he gave his life for us “while we were still sinners” the book says, lost and indifferent to Him. So great his love.